Rolling Out USB Isolators…

Tomorrow, it’s official. Our latest product is on the shelves at our distributor, we’ve gotten enthusastic response from initial customers over the last couple of weeks, and we’re finally ready to roll it out. What is it? A USB Isolator.
Why an isolator? Because we’ve been doing a lot more work with embedded controllers in line-powered applications. Once you’ve got a PC based development system or test instrument connected over USB to a system powered off the AC mains, you’re likely to have a sizable difference in grounds as well. (And we’ve got the melted o-scope probes to prove it.)  We started by isolating the system end (instead of the PC end), but then you need a different isolation scheme for every interface (I2C, SPI, etc.) Then we said “Why not isolate the USB side instead?”
As luck would have it, there are a couple of IC vendors working the whole isolated USB problem. For us, the ADuM4160 did the trick for the USB data. We added a transformer-based flyback circuit to the board to provide isolated power and we had a neat little board working in the lab.
USB Isolator

KXUSB-150 USB Isolator

So what have we been doing the past couple of months?  Strangely, the electrical design wasn’t the longest part of the process. Getting the slick customized plastics that we were proud of — that was a trick.  Oh yeah, and setting up a test fixture and procedure to verify that each and every isolator really does stand off at least 1.5kV.

But here we are with another new product. We think this one turned out pretty well. We’ve learned a few things that hopefully will help us on the next one, too.

Ok – back to the lab.

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